Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - Midwifery Futures: The Australian Midwifery Workforce Project
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Midwifery Futures: The Australian Midwifery Workforce Project

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Workforce survey closed

Invitations were sent out to all midwives and midwifery students to participate in a workforce survey. The results of the survey will inform the current state of Australia’s midwifery workforce as well as influence future strategies to address common challenges and improve the health outcomes for women, babies and families.

What’s next?

We will be hosting a National Symposium and bring together leaders, policy makers, regulators, clinicians and consumers from across Australia to discuss midwifery workforce issues at the policy, regulatory, educational, industrial, and professional level. This symposium is designed to identify recommendations to support the future direction for midwifery in Australia.


In 2021, over 311,000 mothers gave birth to more than 315,000 babies in Australia (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2023). Almost every one of these births was attended by a midwife. The Australian midwifery workforce provides high quality, safe care during a person’s pregnancy, labour and birth and the postpartum period. Maintaining sufficient numbers, diversity, and quality in the midwifery workforce is crucial to the ongoing provision of safe and effective maternity care. Midwifery Futures will provide a snapshot of the Australian midwifery workforce and identify opportunities to strengthen and grow the profession for the future.

The Midwifery Futures project is funded by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and will work in collaboration with the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers of Australia and New Zealand (ANZCCNMO ).


This project aims to review the current state of Australia’s midwifery workforce and inform strategies to support policy and regulatory change. Specific goals are to:

  1. Understand midwifery prescribing in relation to midwifery scope of practice and regulation in Australia and compare this to the international context.
  2. Identify and explore issues influencing the number of midwives in Australia, including educational pathways, workforce participation, models of care and workforce trends.
  3. Identify and explore workforce factors including demand for midwifery continuity of care, Birthing on Country and other public or private models of care and access and acceptability for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
  4. Examine issues and opportunities in the recruitment, retention, and attrition of midwives in Australia, with a particular focus on the retention of the existing midwifery workforce, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwifery workforce and the rural and regional workforce distribution.
  5. Identify gaps in the education, training, skills, and experience of the midwifery workforce that impacts the provision of the full scope of practice delivering safe, effective care across all service contexts (particularly rural and remote contexts).

The team

Project lead: Professor Caroline Homer AO

Project team: Professor Joanne Gray, Professor Kathleen Baird, Professor Jennifer Fenwick, Dr Zoe Bradfield, and Melanie Robinson.

Research officers: Dr Kirsten Small and Chanelle Warton.

This project is a collaboration between the Burnet Institute, University of Technology Sydney, and Curtin University.

How will we conduct the review?

The project is composed of distinct stages. These are:

  1. Workforce analysis: to understand the current workforce and develop predictions regarding future workforce needs. Routinely collected data from Commonwealth and state health departments will be gathered and analysed.
  2. Scoping reviews of existing research, reports and other data focussing on what Australian maternity consumers need and want from midwifery services, and how midwives are delivering this.
  3. Online surveys of the midwifery workforce. These are currently planned to include:
    a. Midwifery students (entry-to-practice programs)
    b. Midwifery educators based in academic institutions
    c. Midwifery workforce (midwives working in practice, public and private sectors)
  4. Focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders and current midwifery students, endorsed midwives, or midwives providing midwifery continuity of care services.
  5. Case studies to provide examples of innovative and successful approaches to the provision of midwifery services and education.
  6. National symposium in March 2024, bringing key stakeholders together to develop a collaborative and strategic approach to the midwifery workforce for the future.


The project will have an Expert Advisory Group (EAG). Membership includes the Executive Officer of the NMBA, the Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer (CNMO), a CNMO nominated by ANZCCNMO, the Australian College of Midwives (ACM), the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives, the Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery, a National Board midwife member nominated by the NMBA, the Chair of the Notification Committee: Midwifery (National), and two community members. A Working Advisory Group (WAG) will also be established to review outputs from the project as they occur and provide advice to the Project Team. Membership to include ACM, ANMF, subject matter experts, relevant midwifery policy officer/principal advisors from each jurisdiction and at least two consumers.

In addition, there will be two further key advisory groups:

  • A Consumer Reference Panel who will advise the project team, WAG and the EAG. Two consumers from this group will sit on the EAG and the WAG.
  • First Nations Advisory Group who will advise the project team and the EAG and potentially undertake a series of Yarning Circles to provide input into the WAG and the EAG.


More information

Page reviewed 7/05/2024